Blizzard Entertainment might have an Orc riding a wolf in the courtyard of its headquarters, but let’s face it — when we talk about some of the most powerful creatures in the Warcraft universe, dragons rear their toothy heads. And with the upcoming Witchwood expansion for Hearthstone, these reptilian beasts just might be on the … hunt.
Earlier today, the designers behind the biggest card game on the digital market showed off their final batch of cards for the new expansion, which hits April 12 on PC and mobile devices. Blizzard has pushed dragons in the Priest class for some time, and before the first Standard year rotation, Dragon Warrior had its followers, too. But Dragon Hunter? It’s happening.
Blizzard already showed off Emeriss, a legendary dragon for Hunter. It costs 10 mana, and its Battlecry doubles the attack and health of all the minions in your hand. And we saw more cards that shows how the Hearthstone design team’s looking to give Rexxar a breath weapon or two besides halitosis (come on, a Orc hunter out in the wilds, eating meat on the regular? Of course his breath stinks).
Hunter is getting Carrion Drake, a 5 mana 3/7 dragon with a Battlecry that’ll make it Poisonous if another minion died this turn. Marsh Drake is a neutral 3 mana 5/4 with a drawback to balance out its power — it summons a 2/1 Dragonslayer that’s Poisonous. Then there’s Emeriss itself.
So, why is Brode and crew setting up good ol’ Rexxar with dragons?
“One thing we had not done before is push [Hunter dragons]. We’ve pushed Priest dragons and Paladin Dragons and Warrior Dragons, and there have been some Dragon Hunter decks in the past,” Brode said. “We hadn’t had any explicit Dragon build-arounds, and now we have some powerful Dragons in Hunter, so it’s now an option for players to try to make that work.”
With some other dragon cards rotating out of Standard mode, such as Deathwing, Dragonlord, Book Wyrm, and Netherspire Historian (which Discovers a dragon for its Battlecry), Blizzard also wanted to put some neutral cards into The Witchwood, too, for those who like playing with the scaly beats.
It’s kinda like Oprah Winfrey came in and said, “You get a dragon, and you get a dragon, and you get a dragon” to Hearthstone’s nine heroes.
“We have Mechs, we have Murlocs, and some are core minions types that are interesting in how they can work differently in each class, and that’s cool. Dragons have been traditionally neutral-focused, as we saw with Legendary dragons, so any class can make a dragon deck,” Brode said. “I do think you can take dragons in every class. We’ve seen Warlock dragons, Hunter dragons. It’s exciting to keep supporting those kind of decks.”
Hunter and beasts go hand-and-hand, but Blizzard has also thrown Deathrattle (which gives a minion an effect when it dies) under Rexxar’s umbrella. And one of the most versatile dragons in the current minion pool is Bone Drake, which has a Deathrattle that adds a random dragon to your hand.
Later, we ended up talking about color palettes for minions. The Dragon cards coming to Hunter play off green, pointing toward Warcraft’s Emerald Dragonflight (which Ysera leads). Some of them are “corrupted,” Brode said, but it’s not from an infusion of evil.
“They’ve been sitting in the swamp too long, they’re growing moss or mushrooms or things,” he said. “They kinda have a swamp dragon feel to them.”
Turns out the choice of colors for dragons fit the class. Purple is for Priest dragons, like Duskbreaker. Brode said they lean into the Red or Black dragonflights for Warrior, and Blue for Mage.
“We divvy the Dragonflights up among the classes in ways that allow us to make, even though they’re dragons and have their own dragonflight, matches the color palette and fantasy vibe of the classes.”
I wonder how long it’ll take card game Dragon Master Brian Kibler to hit legend with a Dragon Hunter deck. …